You Can Run, but . . .
Review of “The Walking Dead” 508 – “Coda”
By RC Murphy
Here we are! Weeks of slow build up brought us to an unforgettable mid-season finale. Was it the perfect way to tide viewers over until episodes resume in February? Not in the way previous seasons have kept us chomping at the bit to find out what’s happening next. They set a high standard after the season four mid-season finale and its fiery blood bath. The show’s producers would’ve had to set no limits to hit that high a note again.
Warning! Episode spoilers a plenty are waiting below.
The episode starts right after the last left off, with Bob Lamson handcuffed and running away from Rick and his rescue team. Taking matters into his own hands, Rick chases down Lamson in a police cruiser, rams into him, and doesn’t calm down until the barrel of his gun is aimed at the fallen officer. Lamson attempts to sweet talk Rick, say they can go back and make the plan work. Rick’s response, “Can’t go back, Bob,” says a lot about the mentality of everyone in this season. They’ve all crossed lines they can’t come back from. The people they once were are long gone. Lamson may have been a decent guy, but after the walkers came, his moral code was dropped in the mud. But his moral code is still cleaner than Rick’s. And splattered on the pavement after Rick was done pulling information from the injured officer.
Lamson may have been able to maintain a sense of civility within the hospital—and its backward rules when it comes to the wards the cops order around like slaves. Dawn walks right on by as her officers physically and emotionally abuse their wards, never batting an eyelash so long as they leave her alone. Yet we’re supposed to believe her when she says the things she does are for the greater good, that she’s doing it to help people who’ve ended up in situations like Beth. Her definition of help differs greatly from what’s in the dictionary. Dawn helped by telling her to risk her safety and steal medicine to maybe-save Carol, covering up Gorman’s murder to use as blackmail, making Beth act as her maid, and lastly, ordering a young woman to push a police officer down an elevator shaft. At every turn, Dawn put Beth at risk, all in the name of paying off some debt for health care or covering up a justified murder. Nothing Dawn says can be trusted. She got where she is by manipulation and cold-hearted calculation. Two skills she puts to work during the climax for the episode.
At last, Gabriel may understand why his fellow survivors are so efficient at killing when a threat comes their way. After his escape, he made his way to the school where the Terminus folks made camp the night they enjoyed a little Bob-B-Q. Too bad for him, they aren’t very good housekeepers and left their leftovers on the grill. After seeing first-hand what the Terminus people did, he heads back to the church . . . with a gang of walkers in tow. Carl and Michonne take care of the mess, trapping the walkers inside. Gabriel is ready to pull his weight, telling Michonne, “I can’t run anymore.” He could’ve also been talking about the hole in his foot, but I like to believe the good Father will be a solid part of the crew from here on out.
G.R.E.A.T.M. pull up to the church just in time to help. Everyone piles into the fire truck, taking Maggie to Atlanta to help save Beth. Unfortunately, even with the wheels, they’re too late to do any good.
The climax for the episode plays out like an old western—two forces meeting on a road, one leader doing the talking for each side while everyone else is twitchy from nerves. The trade-offs go smoothly. Daryl rushes forward to claim Carol and her go bag. Rick walks the remaining officer forward to trade for Beth. The moment Beth is back with the crew, things go south. Dawn has another stipulation—Noah must return to the hospital. Beth had taken his place in their system. Without either Dawn would have to do her own chores. We can’t have that. Fed up with the manipulation and lies, Beth takes matters into her own hands. Or rather, her own cast, where she’d hidden a pair of scissors before the trade-off. It was the one time Beth didn’t hem and haw about taking action. She saw an opportunity and took it, cutting one head off the hydra working within the hospital. Dawn didn’t go down without a fight. She manages to fire off a single round from her gun. Beth’s bravest act is her final one. A single shot to the head will ensure she doesn’t come back as a walker. It’s a small mercy at the end of a painful few weeks for the young woman.
The reactions to Beth’s death have a bigger impact than the moment Dawn pulled the trigger. Daryl is absolutely broken and takes the kill shot to take out Dawn. Carol carefully pulls him back before the tentative peace the deaths brought is broken. The Greene family have always functioned as part of the heart for the group. Beth’s light kept many of them going during the prison days, her gentle songs and the way she cared for the young ones in their group giving them hope for a future led by the kids she aided. Now it’s just Maggie. She really is alone this time. No big what-if hanging over Beth’s fate. Can she recover from this loss? Can any of them? Losing the innocent members of their strange family takes a toll, chips away a little more of their civility. Another loss like this and they may end up more walker than man.
Don’t skip the final scene! Yes, there is a short bit after the credits. Does this mean we’ll see much more of Morgan in the future? I hope so. It’s time to shake things up and bring back some energy to the story now that we’re not mired in the hospital drama anymore.
We’re one episode away from the mid-season finale. So far the plot has crept toward an outcome completely hidden to the viewers. There’s no big bad guy for the various factions within the survivor’s group to fight. The one main mission for the season was based on a lie. We’ve now got a new mission: Save Carol and Beth. But can that take us through the next two episodes and give fans what they look forward to every mid-season break?
Watch your step! There’s spoilers creeping around under here.
Our intrepid heroes split yet again, leaving Michonne and Carl to look after Judith and Gabriel. The Father is jumpy, touchy about the work being done to fortify the church so it’s a safer place for them to hole up. His regret over the murders done by his fellow survivors eats at him. Michonne and Carl tag team Gabriel. They stress the need to learn how to defend himself. How to move on emotionally after being forced to kill—walker or human. Gabriel saved them by allowing them to camp in his church. This is the only way they know how to repay the kindness, by teaching him how to survive after they leave if he doesn’t travel with them. The pressure from them to grow past his comfort levels forces Gabriel to do something utterly stupid. He escapes through the floor boards and under the church, injuring himself in the process. How far can a limping, pacifistic, guilt-ridden man make it? Is he running from people he sees as cold-blooded killers or from the memories of how he soiled his hands by refusing to aid his parishioners?
There is a new faction within the survivor crew – G.R.E.A.T.M. is the team name Tara cooked up for the group who had been escorting the liar Eugene to D.C. for his mythical walker cure. They’re not a very well-oiled machine at the moment. Abraham put himself in time-out after decking Eugene, his temper steaming hotter than the Georgia highway he’s kneeling on. Rosita attempts to talk sense into him. Fails. Fails to the point where Maggie draws her gun and forces Abraham to kneel again. Maggie is done with his hissy fits and the hiccups in their plan. She’d agreed to go to help. To give her life some purpose after losing her entire family, except Glenn. Without the mission, the entire group is lost. Tara tries to keep the peace, but can’t do anything in the face of Abraham and Maggie’s anger. Glenn eventually steps up and starts weaving a plan, using his people skills to show everyone that the fighting will get them nowhere and they can’t camp out in the middle of a highway forever. He brings them together. By the time Glenn, Rosita, and Tara make it back from a trip to find water—scoring a couple fish for dinner along the way—Eugene is awake and Abraham’s relief that he didn’t kill yet another living being sloughs the foul mood from his shoulders. They may be able to work as a cohesive unit, but where will they go if D.C. is out of the picture?
Rick’s group down in Atlanta seem like they may have a solid plan to get Beth and Carol back. Or maybe not. Tyreese has come a long way since the days when he could not and would not even do so much as kill a walker. However, the thought of barging into a secure building crawling with well-armed police makes him think twice. Not only about the casualties from the opposing side, but civilians and their own crew members. He comes up with a better plan—catch two of Dawn’s officers and force a trade, yours for ours. When Rick moves to reject the safer idea, Daryl intervenes. He’s not taking any chances retrieving the two people he’s come to care about the most because of one of Rick’s rash gotta-get-revenge ideas. The plan goes off without a hitch. Or so I’d like to say. Being what it is, things went downhill quickly as soon as backup arrived to aid the cops lured out by Noah. There’s a shoot-out and violent hide-and-go-seek scene. It ends when Daryl rips the head off a walker and bashes a guy’s head with it. There’s a sit down with the officers in custody. One man, Bob Lamson, appears to be the best bet for making the plan work. He gives Rick some solid advice . . . and then uses Sasha’s obvious emotional weakness against her. Lamson lures her off to the other side of the warehouse and rams her into a window so he can escape. So much for having a plan.
The main walkers for this episode were far different than anything we’ve seen from KNB EFX for the show before. Most of Atlanta was hit by napalm during the initial walker invasion. The unlucky folks who’d been outside the hospital for evacuation were hit in the process. After they died, they came back as animated hunks of bubble gum. Or at least that’s what they looked like with their flesh melting over the asphalt. Wouldn’t want to step in that and try to scrape it off my shoe.
Inside the hospital, things are the same as always. Jerk cops ordering their wards around, and turning that onto Dawn when they feel they aren’t getting their way. One officer orders Dawn to take Carol off the machines and stop treatment, stating it’s a waste of resources. Dawn agrees, and then turns around to use Beth to save Carol. Because any sane office of the law will ask a scared, injured girl to pretend she’s a doctor and potentially kill a woman trying to save her without proper medical training. Yup. That’s one-hundred percent believable.
The next episode if the much-awaited mid-season finale. What’s waiting for viewers? Hopefully something to punch up the energy for the remainder of the season.
Two weeks in a row it’s been impossible to find a place to start with a review. Days later, I’m still dizzy from the turn of events. Pacing for the second half of season two took a one-eighty degree flip from how we started the season—that painfully long wait to learn what happened to Sophia only to end in heartbreak. We’re still ending on heartbreak, but it seems harsher, more in our faces. If there was any doubt that I correctly labeled TWD’s writers as evil, this week’s episode proved me right. Only twisted minds could create characters like these and make us forget to breathe while they run around a fictional world causing chaos.
This week began with a bittersweet eulogy for Dale, contrasted by the group patrolling the farm for walkers. Something about the combination of scenes left something to be desired for me. They say they’re going to do what Dale would have wanted, make him proud and salvage a broken community. Would he want them to do it that way? They needlessly beat those walkers instead of delivering a humane blow to the head. Taking out pent up anger on the undead is understandable, but doing it in the name of a man that wanted nothing but peace seems wrong.
On a side note, did you all notice that T-Dog used a hammer to dispatch one of the walkers? IronE got to put his weapon of choice to use. Awesome! T-Dog also got to step out of the background more. Hopefully this trend lasts.
There is a glimmer of hope for the survival of the group as a whole in the unlikely form of Daryl. In the weeks prior, we’ve seen him pull further and further from the group. Heck, he set his camp up a good half a mile away from the others to get away from them. But last week he stepped up and did what no one really had the heart to do. After, he told Rick, “You shouldn’t have to do all the heavy lifting.” Daryl sees the stress leadership puts on Rick. He wants to help again. I’m not entirely sure what triggered his change of heart. There are too many variables at work to pinpoint one exact cause.
One variable no one can seem to keep a handle of is Carl. Last week I got a tad nasty and pointed blame where it belongs, on his parents. Shane was right (don’t die of shock) when he told Rick that Carl needed to discuss Dale’s death with his father. That isn’t because a male’s opinion on the matter is any better than a woman’s. Oh no, that is a reflection on how poor Lori’s parenting skills are. I’ve lost count of how many times Carl’s been found far away from the house after she’s been asked to keep him inside. The kid isn’t a magical creature. He has a physical form and can’t dematerialize only to reform in the midst of trouble. How the heck can she consistently fail at keeping him away from danger?
Instead of parenting, Lori is still obsessed with saving her reputation. She confronts Shane yet again about their sort-of relationship. At this point I can’t tell if she is stringing him along on the off chance that Rick dies and she needs a male in her life (and bed) or if she sees the dark path he’s going down and is trying to placate his crazy to keep him in line. No matter her motivation, all she has done is cause trouble between Rick and Shane. It’s hard to tell if this sort of thing would have happened after Rick was shot in the line of duty without the walker uprising putting her in Shane’s protection.
Pro tip for ZSC brigadiers: While it is important to board up possible weak spots in your Safe Haven, spending a day hammering boards in place could have unforeseen problems. The undead in The Walking Dead respond to sound. All of that hammering the group did on the barn and house echoed through the forest, drawing the walkers in closer. The only reason they couldn’t pinpoint the source is because the sounds were too faint to follow after bouncing around the trees. However, something like a gun shot after they are searching for the noises… someone may have well rung the dinner bell.
It wouldn’t be one of my reviews if we didn’t address the Shane Issue. This week I need to put a Spoiler Warning before it. If you have not seen episode 212 of The Walking Dead, turn around and head to safety. After you watch, come back and finish reading.
Shane, Shane, Shane. I’ve spent nearly a year despising you and defending that opinion tooth and nail. You are ruthless, cutthroat, obsessive, and your only redeeming quality is being a good shooter. No one trusts you, not even the people you tried to lure to your side with promises of cookies, or whatever the emotional equivalent is for a psychopath. You could never be a leader of men, not in the way Rick is, and your jealousy over that fact will be your downfall.
Oh wait, it was.
The creepiest scene in this episode possessed no dialog. Heck, there wasn’t even much sound to it at all. Watching Shane sit in the shed contemplating his plans for Randall sent goosebumps up my arms. It takes a great actor and great writing to make me loathe a fictional character so much. Hats off to Jon Bernthal and the TWD writers. This ride watching Shane spiral further and further to madness has been the most entertaining bit of television in years. Shane’s condition created so many discussions about morals in extreme crisis situations. Even when we thought he acted poorly, part of our minds wondered if it actually was the right thing to do. Could we reach that level of practicality he delved into and maintain what it is that makes us human? I’m not entirely sure it is possible.
However, there was nothing right or humane about how he dealt with poor Randall. Was Randall a threat? In my opinion, yes. He acted too much like a weasel to trust him at his word. Rick’s plan to drive him an hour out and drop him off would’ve worked or at least given them time to prepare the farm for possible human attack, which they should have done beforehand. Shane couldn’t leave it be. He had to have his way and in the process illustrated that any dead body, bitten or not, will come back as a walker.
Much respect to Rick for realizing Shane’s plan and confronting him man to man. By that point there were two possible outcomes. Either way, someone would die. Losing Shane is a blow to the group. For all of his insanity, he did a good job protecting them. That is when he wasn’t plotting ways to undermine the authority of the group. If he’d succeeded, the group would have collapsed. None of the others would believe the story he cooked up. Not after the Otis incident came to light.
Will everyone understand why Shane died, though? Can our survivors continue on as they have been? Hell broke loose and is knocking on their front door. The season two finale next week is going to be a doozey.
What do you think about Shane’s demise? Let us hear your opinion in the comments below.
There are very few moments where yours truly is struck speechless. This week’s episode of The Walking Dead ended on one such moment. A huge round of applause to Greg Nicotero for his efforts directing “Judge, Jury, Executioner”, there were some really beautiful moments captured on screen. As well as some instances that ripped the audience’s heart out, stomped on it, dropped it down a well, and then fed it to a walker. Yeah, this one was emotional on so many levels.
We’re going to start this week with the Shane Issue to make room for the main topic this episode. Right away, we knew Shane would go ballistic if they didn’t off the prisoner. In typical fashion, he tries to worm his way into Andrea’s ear to turn her to his side in the matter. Not that she needed much pushing to get there. Andrea—despite her background as a civil rights lawyer—is all about capital punishment. I’m not too sure how much of that is her being willing to do anything to survive or an attempt to immolate the men in how they deal. Shane’s continued efforts to stage a mutiny to oust Hershel and Rick may fall on deaf ears with Andrea, no matter how much he tries to poison her ear. Also, how long has he been stealing ammunition? Personally, I don’t think Shane plans to stay with the group much longer.
Daryl is likewise pulling away from the group, setting his camp further away from everyone else. He’s also distanced himself even more from Carol, which breaks my heart. I wanted to see what would bloom between those two if given the chance. Daryl displays a moral code in this episode, despite what he’d have us believe about being a hard-as-nails man with no limits or boundaries. His anger at Randall shifts to blind fury after hearing the unspeakable things his crew has done to innocents. Is beating someone associated with rapists right? No. But seeing that Daryl cares about anything at all is reassuring. He’s pulled so far into himself that there wasn’t much left to watch other than a snarling squirrel catcher.
There was all of one happy moment in this episode. We’ve been waiting a few weeks to see how Hershel would change after the attack in the bar. He’s continued down the path allowing Rick to do what he sees fit to protect the farm. However, Hershel also had a change of heart about a much more pleasant matter. In a very touching moment he gave his approval of Glenn and Maggie’s relationship. Won’t lie, I cheered. Go Team Glenn!
Normally I don’t do this, but . . . SPOILER WARNING!! The text blow contains spoilers from episode 211 of The Walking Dead. If you have not seen the episode, what are you waiting for? Go watch! Then come back and finish reading.
The big question—which is literally underlined three times and written in all capital letters on my review notes—Who is to blame for the last moments of the episode?
On one hand you have Carl, who is acting out more and more. Not only did he wander away from camp on his own, but also stole a gun from Daryl. The icing on the cake came when he tried to take on a walker by himself and nearly got eaten. He also said some very nasty things to Carol. Yes, Carl is also mourning Sophia’s loss, but that gives him no right to speak as he did.
However, whenever you see a child misbehaving, you need to look at the parents. Rick is consumed with the idea of doing what is right for everyone. In the process of solving the world’s problems, he’s lost sight of the things closest to him. Carl needs a father more now than ever and between the two men who could be a father figure to him—his actual father and Shane—he spends most of his time with Shane… a man not well known for being a role model, or even all that nice. And forget about Lori being an actual parent. She’s got her nose in everyone else’s business to make sure they’re not all talking about her. Get over yourself and take care of your child, please. Before he gets anyone else in camp killed.
No matter whom you blamed, the group has lost their voice of reason. A loss born out of sheer neglect. Dale fought so hard for so long to remind everyone that they are human despite what happened around them. He assured them that even with walkers knocking down their doors that being a decent person still mattered. Through Dale’s efforts they kept that vital piece of themselves that distinguished the living from the walkers. If they go around executing people for no valid reason, how are they better than the undead?
“The world we know is gone, but keeping our humanity, that’s a choice.” –Dale
Jeffrey DeMunn gave a brilliant performance in this episode. You can tell that he put everything into the role. Dale never slowed, never wavered in his belief that an alternate solution could be found to deal with Randall. What really broke my heart was in the end he won. The kid lives to see another day, but Dale won’t. I’m tearing up again thinking about it—tears of impotent rage aimed at fictional characters and their messed up fates. That is testament to the skill of everyone involved in creating The Walking Dead.
What do you think, who is really to blame for Dale’s death? Let us hear your opinions in the comments below.